As foods go, fish is often quite polarising with people either loving it, or strongly disliking it . However there is such a wide variety of fish and seafood available that I also encourage trying it. From a nutritional perspective seafood has plenty to offer, not only as a source of lean protein, but also for the many beneficial health qualities such as essential omega 3 fatty acids found in oily fish, B vitamins found in white fish, and minerals such as iodine, zinc and potassium found in most seafood.
Between them these nutrients help support brain and thyroid activity, reproductive health, cardiovascular health and circulation, and balancing inflammatory processes in the body. An important consideration with essential omega 3 fatty acids is that our body is unable to produce this naturally so it is essential we source it from our diet. Similarly, zinc and iodine are two minerals commonly found to be low in modern diets where seafood is not regularly eaten.
The Mediterranean diet is noted for its high inclusion of fish and seafood, and research suggests that diets rich in fish promote heart health and healthy aging. Current guidelines advise 2-3 portions of oily fish per week (for the essential omega 3 fatty acids) which would include salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, herrings and fresh tuna. Typically these oily fish are often the ones liked least for being “fishy fish” or “strong tasting”.
White fish such as cod, bream, halibut, hake, monkfish and haddock provide an easier route into eating fish. They are more delicate in flavour and typically have a more “fleshy” consistency. Whilst they may not contain as much omega 3, they are a great source of protein and provide a vitamins A, B, D and E making them a nutrient-dense addition to other meats in the diet.
Cod fillets wrapped in Pancetta
The following recipe is a simple oven-baked Cod fillet, wrapped in pancetta bacon (optional) and cooked on a bed of runner beans. It’s ideal for a light supper and can be served with new or jacket potatoes (or sweet potatoes) to provide a portion of starchy vegetables.
Ingredients: Cod fillets (c. palm-sized portion per person), enough pancetta bacon slices to wrap, a handful of beans per person (sliced).
Preparation: 10 mins + 30 mins cooking time
- Preheat an oven to 160 C
- Prepare an oven dish with a small coating of olive oil
- Slice the runner beans and cover the base of the oven dish
- Wrap each cod fillet with 1-2 slices of pancetta and place on top of the beans
- Cover with baking parchment and place in the center of a hot oven
- Bake for c. 30 mins or until the cod feels firm to the touch.
- Remove the parchment for the final 5 minutes to allow the pancetta to crisp.